Jessica Capshaw Says There Is No Balance to Being a Working Mom: 'You Have to Give Up Certain Things'

"There is no balance to being a working-outside-the-house mom," Grey's Anatomy star and mother of four Jessica Capshaw tells PEOPLE

Jenni Kayne and H.E.A.R.T. Celebrate Valentine's Day
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Jessica Capshaw is no stranger to chaos with her day job on Grey’s Anatomy — and though her weekends off from the show may be less dramatic, they’re still hectic.

“With all the kids on sports teams, between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m., it is [a] full-blown driving and cheering squad,” the mother of four told PEOPLE of her weekends at The Annual H.E.A.R.T. Brunch in Brentwood, California, on Tuesday. “And a lot of coolers that you’re toting around with juice packs.”

Capshaw, 40, and husband Christopher Gavigan are parents to Josephine Kate, 11 months, Poppy James, 4½, Eve Augusta, 6½, and Luke Hudson, 9½. And while Capshaw says she’s a great snack mom now, it didn’t start out that way.

“The first couple years you actually aren’t [a good snack mom], and you bring the orange slices and no one likes them. Then you carry your orange slices home, and it’s sort of sad,” she says. “Then you realize what they really want. So you start doing that.”

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So what are her go-to mom snacks? “The farmer’s market strawberries that everybody loves, as opposed to, like, the kind of creepy oranges that have more rind than fruit. It’s the cold juice packs,” she says. “I definitely think my kids are very bar-oriented. They do like a good bar: a good organic all-in-one bar.”

When her kids aren’t snacking, they’re busy hitting major milestones. “Josephine is 11 months old. I always say at 10 months old, I feel like they turn them on. They click them on,” Capshaw says.

“All that work you do in the infancy, and the development, and the breastfeeding or adjusting to supplementing, and then they’re sitting, and then they’re crawling, and then they’re cooing and then they’re talking — and of course now, as a fourth, there’s three other ones to contend with,” she adds. “But [Josephine] got switched on at 10 months, and now I feel very strongly that she is a majorly active member of the Capshaw-Gavigan household.”

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“Poppy is my little dance queen. She’s starting to become quite the storyteller in our family,” The Practice alum says. “And Eve is starting kindergarten this year, and is just this sponge of bringing home every single fact that then comes into her little life as a kindergartner — teaching me things, again.”

She continues, “Luke is in third grade. Again, just all the social emotional stuff, and the sportsmanship, and the weekends full of sports games. It’s a full, full, full house. So we have a lot going on.”

Capshaw, like every other working mom, finds the balance of work and family difficult — in fact, she admits there is none.

“Listen, when it’s hard, it’s really hard,” she says. “And I’ve always said this: There is no balance to being a working-outside-the-house mom. There’s probably not even a balance to being a working-inside-the-house mom. You have to give up certain things in order to get other things.”

She continues, “So sometimes I’m working really, really hard, and it’s a lot. I always keep my kids very well-informed. This is that week where it’s going to be rough. But next week’s going to be great.”

Capshaw thinks keeping her kids in the loop is a key part of parenting.

“The only thing that kids, I think, really have the hardest time with is not knowing,” she explains. “So as long as they know, and they know what to expect, they’re very well-equipped. Because they’re very resilient.”

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